The ‘West Lothian question’ is often referred to in the current debate on our forthcoming referendum and I find this a source of some frustration when you consider that the issue was first raised by William Gladstone in parliamentary debate on the Irish Home Rule Bill in 1886.
He posed the question even more bluntly than Tam Dalyell did in 1977. Gladstone simply and loftily stated, ‘If Ireland is to have domestic legislation for Irish Affairs, they cannot come here for English affairs’.
Tam Dalyell deserves much credit, in my view for his persistent opposition in debate and in print to every illegal UK war since Aden, but he was being quite disingenuous in asking his version of the Gladstone argument.
He knew, as an already long-standing MP and a keen student of history that MPs outwith England/Wales generally abstain from voting on English- only matters, so there was a very workable convention which nearly always avoided the democratic conundrum
I feel frustration for three reasons. First, the question is largely irrelevant in terms of parliamentary processes. Second, it has been repeatedly used to oppose removal of powers from Westminster. Third, and most importantly given that in September we face the most important democratic choice that we Scots have ever faced, it is used by media and politicians to divert attention away from the real constitutional question facing Scots currently.
That question is: Do Scots want to elect 100% of their parliamentary representatives so that all political decisions are taken by our representatives on our behalf, or do we want to remain subject to an ancient system which includes unelected Lords and Ladies with powers to impose policies such as WMD, poll tax, bedroom tax and those wars that Tam Dalyell opposed?
The West Lothian question is really the Westminster smokescreen.
David Crines, Lanark
Time to explore our local heritage
Scotland is a cultural hotbed but we often forget about the stories, artefacts and exhibits on our doorstep. This weekend’s Festival of Museums offers a chance for the people of Edinburgh and the Lothians to explore their local heritage.
Whether it’s learning about the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll and 1940s swing dance at Edinburgh University, fossils at the Almond Valley Hertitage Trust or John Muir’s love of wildlife at the Prestongrange Hertiage Museum in East Lothian, the festival will inspire and delight in equal measure.
The Edinburgh and Lothians area has a rich past and this is a fantastic opportunity to find out in a fun way – anyone going along should expect the unexpected.
Joanne Orr, chief executive of Museums Galleries Scotland, Waterloo Place, Edinburgh
Raising awareness on meningitis legacy
Hot on the heels of our awareness week – Vocal About Viral – showing the impact viral meningitis can have on sufferers and their families, come three other weeks, all of which help to demonstrate the devastating after-effects of meningitis.
Action for Brain Injury Week runs from May 12 to 18. Meningitis and septicaemia can cause acquired brain injury – injury to the brain that happens after birth. The week aims to educate people on the effects of acquired brain injury and increase support for people and their families who live with the condition.
Then, May 18-25 is National Epilepsy Week. A small but significant number of people who contract meningitis will be left with epilepsy. Children and adolescents who have experienced Meningitis B are six times more likely to develop epilepsy than children who haven’t had the disease.
Finally, it’s Deaf Awareness Week between May 19 and 25. Hearing loss is the most common after-effect of meningitis.
Despite recent good news on a Meningitis B vaccine, this disease still wrecks lives every day. At Meningitis Now we’re determined to fight it on all levels – through funding vital vaccine research, raising awareness so people know the signs and symptoms and supporting those struggling with the effects of the disease.
Help us raise awareness of the impact meningitis is having in your community and funds to change for the better the lives of those who have suffered it. Find out how at www.meningitisnow.org.
Sue Davie, chief executive, Meningitis Now, Stroud, Gloucestershire
Immigration scare is a desperate tactic
I read with dismay comments made in relation to Ukip’s visit to Edinburgh. To use immigration as a scare tactic into voting ‘No’ quite frankly shrieks of desperation.
As the first government of an independent Scotland has yet to be elected – and only by the people of Scotland – our future immigration policy is still up for debate.
Does anyone really believe that London’s done a great job of managing this island’s borders to date?
Seán Dolan-Osborne, Dunfermline
How Hibs can avoid relegation problems
Might I suggest that the manager of Hibs gets all the players in front of the goalmouth all day and makes them put the ball in the net from any distance and any angle and they keep at it until it becomes second nature and perhaps they can then replicate the Famous Five.
CJR Fentiman, Polwarth Gardens, Edinburgh